Leadership 102: The Senior vs. The Rookie

One common cause of conflict and subject of debate within an organization or team is the notion that length of service is the best gauge for employee performance. Almost a decade ago, I also had that opinion; quickly thwarted by our manager.

Today, I still encounter colleagues/people with the same notion. However, I have since been “convinced” by that manager and actually learned to appreciate a fresh eye and mind in a group.

What happens to an employee who does the same thing over and over and over again for the last 10 years?

Case # 1 –  The Mechanical Employee

I have a friend who said “I can do my job even with my eyes closed” with a hint of pride and confidence in his voice. But while I know that mastery of work entails a lot of hard work and discipline, I found myself more scared than proud for him.

Case # 2 – The Complacent Crew

Again, I struggled a bit with my 2 colleagues after the tracker issue. Well, this is still a continuation of that issue, and another one.

In fairness to both, they have begun updating the tracker more religiously than before. It is not perfect, the way I would have wished, but with developing the habit and constant reminder, we will get there.

The other day, one of them approached me to tell me that his procurement package is ready for peer review. We have 2 options, 1) send it to our Dubai or USA counterparts, or 2) wait for our supervisor to do the peer review. That day, our supervisor is almost a week away from coming back. So I adviced him to scan the file and send it to our Dubai counterpart. Then, an alibi was let out – let us just wait for our supervisor because Dubai will not turn it around that quick anyway.

Oh, I almost felt my blood pressure rise. I had to try to calmly explain that he wont be back soon yet and we cannot stop our operations just because. He still insisted. So I said, ok then, I gave my recommendation, if you do not think it’s best, have it your way. Silence…

About an hour later, he spoke to me telling me that the file is ready to be sent, etc, etc. I was already calm then. I had to explain to both colleagues why I was a bit flushed with the reasoning. I explained that things will get pending but we must avoid to be the hold up as much as we can. We do not want, and certainly do not need, another finger pointing at us for untimely procurement and delivery of stuff. They listened and seemed to have understood the point. I just hope so.

The Diagnosis

My friend may already have been inflicted by “blindness”, doing the same thing over and over again. Errors in the past could likely be carried through the present as analysis is lost and replaced by memory and mechanical processing. Procedural and process improvements are set aside since the system is working anyway.

My two colleagues may be suffering from complacency or laziness (I hope not!) or indifference. I was seriously appalled by the absence of the sense of urgency to get things done. PR’s don’t have to be labeled “Emergency” or “Urgent” to be treated “special”. We have been blamed many times before for not being able to deliver the goods on time, and sometimes I can see the end users are right to be feeling so. We have been a bit remiss in our duty as we prefer to wait and let things slide until our leeway is lost and we end up scrambling. This Department has no room for complacency as things pile up so fast and there’s a high tendency that things will slip and fall into oblivion.

The Rookie

The manager gave us his 10 cents worth when they opted to get a new employee for a managerial position that just opened, rather than select from one in the team. What’s with a rookie by the way?

  1. A fresh eye and a fresh mind has that zest and motivation to start things right with his best foot forward. Efficiency is at its best.

  2. A rookie is not yet blinded by the system. Flaws and inefficiencies may be noticed and recommendations for improvement may be suggested.

  3. The “boat” will be rocked by the rookie. Sometimes, ideas will be met with great resistance and the person will seen as a braggart. But sometimes, rocking the boat will steer it into a different direction, hopefully to a better spot. There are times when conflicts are beneficial to the organization.

  4. A newbie will bring something new to the table, from his own experience and knowledge. Learn from it and take advantage of the fresh ideas.

Each one plays a role in an organization. While the contributions, loyalty and competence of seniors are commendable and significant to the growth of the company, rookies also play an indispensable role in an organization. It may be gearing towards a new direction and with new objectives, a rookie rocking the boat may accelerate the needed change.

photo credits: http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ll8ximFGJZ1qb13xjo1_500.jpg


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